Years before the boy name Darryl was at the height of its trendiness (in the early ’60s), the Darryl-based, Marilyn-like name Darrylin debuted in the baby name data:
1954: 6 baby girls named Darrylin
1951: 8 baby girls named Darrylin
1949: 11 baby girls named Darrylin
What made it show up in 1949 specifically?
Darrylin Zanuck, the teenage daughter of famous film producer Darryl Zanuck (founder of 20th Century Fox) and his wife Virginia (a former silent film actress).
She was in the news starting in August of 1949, after her parents announced that the 18-year-old had just gotten engaged to a 22-year-old University of Southern California student named Robert “Bob” Jacks (who went on to become a TV producer). The announcement mentioned that the couple would wed after his graduation the following year, but the pair ended up marrying just a few months later, in November.
And here’s some interesting trivia: Darrylin was a pioneering lady-surfer. In 1947, surfboard maker Joe Quigg crafted a board just for her — it was shorter and lighter than the boards being used by men at the time — and that board has since come to be known as the “Darrylin Board.”
In the mid-1950s, the unusual name Darvi appeared just twice in the U.S. baby name data:
1956: 6 baby girls named Darvi
1954: 5 baby girls named Darvi [debut]
What put it there?
Actress Bella Darvi, whose story is somewhat similar to that of Miroslava: both were born in Europe in the 1920s, both were of Jewish descent and had to deal with the Nazis, both tried to become famous Hollywood actresses in the 1950s, and both ended up taking their own lives.
Bella Darvi was born Bajla Wegier in Poland in 1928. She was imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II and released in 1943.
In 1951, she happened to meet American film producer Darryl Zanuck and his wife Virginia while they were in Europe. They brought her to the U.S., changed her name to Bella Darvi — “Darvi” being a combination of Darryl and Virginia — and helped her get into the movies.
She was featured in several relatively high-profile films in 1954 and 1955 (The Egyptian, Hell and High Water, and The Racers). She even co-won the “New Star of the Year” Golden Globe Award in January of 1954 for her parts in the first two films.* But ultimately her career didn’t take off.
She returned to Europe, where she continued to appear in films, but in 1971 committed suicide in Monte Carlo.
*Interestingly, according to the official Golden Globes site, Darvi won her award before either of her 1954 films came out (one was released in February, the other in August). And, in fact, that particular awards show (the 11th Golden Globes) was supposed to be focused on movies from 1953. So I have no idea how she managed to win…unless Zanuck had something to do with it?
“I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.”
From a 1936 newspaper article about movie actress Veda Ann Borg:
Miss Borg was given a new tag almost the minute she stepped into the studio. It was “Ann Noble.” […] Miss Borg contended that her own name is more descriptive of her personality than Ann Noble. The former model’s argument was convincing. She will be billed as Veda Ann Borg.
(Keavy, Hubbard. “Screen Life In Hollywood.” Wilkes-Barre Record 23 Apr. 1936: 19.)
How in the world did we get from “Jeremy” to “Jezza”?
There is a rule for how this works. Names which have the letter R in them–Jeremy, Catherine, Sharon, Barry, Murray–are trouble for speakers of non-rhotic variations of English to abbreviate. Rhoticity is a linguistic term for describing when the letter is pronounced; in non-rhotic dialects of English, the sound will be discarded unless followed immediately by a vowel. The dialects of England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and, well, New England are all non-rhotic, which is why the word “car” sounds like “cah.”
This isn’t a problem in any of those names if they’re pronounced fully; there’s always a vowel after the R. But to truncate them would be difficult. Typically hypocoristic nicknames are formed by cutting everything but the first syllable and then either leaving that as-is or adding a vowel. That’s how “Daniel” becomes “Danno”: clip to the first syllable (“Dan”) and add a vowel. (The -o ending is most common for male names; -ie is more common for female names.)
The team, led by North Carolina State University’s Terry Gates, named the shark Galagadon nordquistae, a nod to its teeth, which have a stepped triangle shape like the spaceships in the 1980s video game Galaga, and to Karen Nordquist, the Field Museum volunteer who discovered the fossils.
Lorin now often finds himself babysitting while Cali campaigns against atomic power. Symbolically, not long ago she shed the name she’d “hated for 30 years” for one that sounded right. Margo became Cali. “I look at myself differently now,” she says firmly, “except people all across the country think Lorin has remarried.”
The Wayback Machine was named to reference Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine from the popular cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle. In the show, the machine was pronounced as “way back,” which is where the index got its name.
However, Howard did go out of his way to confirm one long-held belief about Willow: that two of the villains were named after famous film critics. The evil General Kael was named after the notoriously ruthless Pauline Kael and the two-headed monster Eborsisk was named after the iconic At the Movies duo of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
And, finally, a pair of snippets from a Colorado Public Radio article about Denver street names. First:
William McGaa [one of Denver’s founding officials] had a debaucherous reputation of his own, drinking and adulterating his way out of favor with the city’s elite. McGaa even named Wazee and Wewatta streets after two of his many wives, both Native American woman from local tribes.
(The settlement of Denver was named in late 1858. McGaa’s son, William Denver McGaa, was born in the settlement in March of 1859 and named after it. His mother was neither Wazee nor Wewatta, but a half-Native American woman named Jennie.)
Second, regarding Denver’s “double alphabetical” streets, which were renamed in 1904:
The pattern is a proper noun name, ideally British, followed by the name of a tree or plant. Albion and Ash, Bellaire and Birch, Clermont and Cherry.
The switch wasn’t without resistance from those wealthy neighborhoods. When Eudora Avenue became Fir Street, residents decried the name as “too plebeian.”
“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.